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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Brand-new music by Major Funk, Kings of Leon, Edie Brickell, The Weather Station, Elephant


Major Funk: Show Your Heart


The group's web site says it plainly: "High energy bass-led grooves, soaring vocals, and a tight horn section; this isn’t what you’d expect from a band coming from the Yukon in Canada’s North." But this group from Whitehorse brings all that to this single from its debut full-length album, Is That You?, due in March. Hat tip to Canadian Beats for introducing us to the seven-piece ensemble of experienced musicians from across Canada. "Together we make old school music with a modern spin," says bassist √Čtienne Girard. 

Kings of Leon: The Bandit


Also due in March is When You See Yourself, the eighth studio album (and first since 2016) from the Followills - brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew. The Nashville-based band bring their familiar sound to this lead single. The cryptic lyrics "And they're walking around with their heads in the cloud screaming, Must catch the bandit" - seem to suggest people hunting for someone to blame for their troubles, who may or may not be real.. 

Edie Brickell and New Bohemians: My Power


The New Bos gathered again in Austin to record their fifth studio album, Hunter and the Dog Star, due for release next month. It follows 2018's Rocket, which marked their return from a 12-year break. American Songwriter says the band has put together "a collection of diverse musical ideas and styles ... as they have continuously done for the past three decades." Brickell says the songs reflect "the mystery of self-expression, loyalty, companionship and love in the darkest sky just before dawn.” 

The Weather Station: Atlantic


We previously featured "Tried to Tell You" from the upcoming album, Ignorance, by this project of Toronto singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman. On this track, she writes of witnessing natural beauty - "My god, I thought, what a sunset / Blood red floods the Atlantic" - and wishing it could clear her mind of the world's distress: "Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind / I should really know better than to read the headlines." Lindeman says she was "trying to capture something of the slipping feeling I think we all feel, the feeling of dread, even in beautiful moments." She adds: "I tried to make the band just go crazy on this one, and they did. ... The music really makes me see the place in my mind; the flute and the guitar chasing each other, wheeling around like birds, the drums cliff-like in their straightness." 

Elephant: Bird's Eye View


From Rotterdam comes this four-piece band that describes its sound as "mellow pop music with an eccentric edge, for fans of Wilco, Andy Shauf and Big Thief." The group launched last year - not the best time to be starting out in the music business - but achieved success with debut single "Midnight in Manhattan." This follow-up is described as "a sweet and haunting song about coming to terms with faded dreams and getting older." The band is joined on this track by pedal steel guitarist Stefan Wolfs.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

New year, new music: Carsie Blanton, Stevie Wonder, Forest Sun, Tired Lion, The Metal Byrds


Carsie Blanton: Be Good


This New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, bandleader and playful revolutionary chose the first moment of 2021 to release a "song about kindness and courage, to ring in a year that's sure to require lots of both." The lyric uses the examples of two famous preachers of love and equality to highlight how dangerous those notions always have been to society's power structure. The single is the first from Love & Rage, the new album from Blanton and her band, due in late April.

Stevie Wonder: Where Is Our Love Song?


With a similar message about "our need for love, peace and unity,” Wonder recently released his first new music in over a decade. On this track, backed by Gary Clark Jr. on guitar, he sings: "Where are our words with hope, prayer for peace, and our desperately needed song of love?" He told Rolling Stone he wrote the beginnings of the song in 1968, when he was 18, and completed it last year with new lyrics.

Forest Sun: Already Home


This self-described troubadour brings a California laid-back style to his music, which draws on influences including gospel, soul, reggae, Americana, blues and jazz. Following his late-2019 LP Brighter Day, he began releasing songs on a monthly basis. Those are now collected on the new album, Stubborn Breathing Heart, which came out New Year's Day. He's been heard frequently on the Birch Street Bistro, our daily hour of singer-songwriters, acoustic bands and the like. Our pick for the New Music bin is this folk-rock-style song with a natural singalong chorus. 

Tired Lion: Breakfast for Pathetics


After establishing this alt-rock band in Perth, Australia, and releasing its debut album (Dumb Days) in 2017, frontwoman Sophie Hopes moved across the continent to Brisbane. As NME reports, "while the relocation brought her closer to her partner, Violent Soho’s Luke Boerdam, it meant leaving behind a lot of personal history – as well as her bandmates." So, on this second LP, Hopes plays all the guitar and keyboard parts, accompanied only by Violent Soho drummer Michael Richards. "What hasn’t changed is the way Hopes fully embraces ’90s indie rock and grunge, leaning into its tangled guitars and quiet/loud kick to chronicle the gloriously messy feelings she observes in and around her."

The Metal Byrds: Impossible


Despite the "byrds" spelling and Austin, Texas, origins, this isn't a jangly Americana band. Their music is classic hard rock with female vocals - think Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth. Eclectic Music Lover describes it as "infused with healthy doses of rock’n’roll and power pop, along with enough metal in the mix to give their songs a dark, edgy quality." The group formed in 2018, after a mutual friend introduced London-born singer-songwriter Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye Dovey. Their third EP, Life in 20, came out in late 2020 and includes this goodbye-to-you sendoff to someone who's "impossible to love."